Honor Thyself: A Two-Day Lesson in Yogic Integrity and Grace

Excessive attachment to a goal robs you of your integrity. Honouring the journey allows you to stand in your full integrity every step of the way. In yoga, using all your drive to get to the full expression of a pose as quickly as possible robs you of the required foundation, strength and flexibility to hold the pose with integrity. The last two days have taught me this lesson more effectively than ever before.

Thursday
Journey to Side crow

SideCrowI have been working on my side crow for a few weeks now. Unlike its original iteration, crow pose, side crow requires twisting, hip levelling, leg strength and a lot of wrist control.

When I rushed into this pose a few weeks ago, my wrist buckled underneath me (not healthy!).

But yesterday, I dedicated a 45-minute home practice to cultivating the ability to draw strength up from the earth through my hands before even attempting side crow. Drawing strength requires firmly pressing your finger mounds into the earth and doming your palm upwards energetically (like a tiger claw).

In this home practice, I worked through downward dog, plank, chaturanga, crow, and uttanasana repeatedly with full attention on my fingers, wrists and upper arms. Only once that awareness was cultivated could I press into side crow from a twisted squat position. With absolute attention and mental stillness, I was able to use the strength of my legs against my forearm to press my legs into a comfortable twist and bring my hips a little further down for stability, which allowed me to hold the pose for an extended period of time. It took patience, dedication and building a mindful foundation to get into side crow with integrity.

Friday
Half-lotus Handstand

Unhappy Half Lotus HandstandToday, on the other hand, I woke up freaking out because my alarm hadn’t gone off and my favourite advanced yoga class was about to begin in ten minutes. Having had a rough week, I pinned all my hopes on my yoga class to save me from my own misery. I cried a little, threw my socks across the room as I was getting dressed, then pulled myself together long enough to get out the door and into the studio ten minutes late for class.

All I missed was the beginning seated meditation. But because I ran to the studio and was in such a poor state of mind, my whole practice was scattered and harmful in many ways. I was pushing myself too hard before I had the right preparation, I didn’t bother working with my breath, and, after attempting a half-lotus handstand, I came down hard on my left ankle and nearly fractured it. The shooting pain in my ankle brought me to tears in class as it dawned on me that my excessive attachment to the class rather than the practice as well as my aggressive overeagerness to prove myself in the half-lotus handstand almost injured me, and almost marked the end of my yoga practice for a while. I wasn’t honouring myself, I was chasing my attachments. I moved back into my downward facing dog and began whispering to myself my personal mantra, “I am in harmony, I am in harmony, I am in harmony.”

After that, I walked home determined to rededicate myself to honouring my body and my practice through a purifying re-centering ritual. First, I would apologize to my loving, supportive body for putting her in harm’s way without her consent. Second, I would practice again, by myself, in my home, moving with mindfulness and love without attempting a single advanced pose. I started my practice in cat/cow and found myself in child’s pose without a desire for anything else. So I stayed there, because it felt right. Then I sat up and bowed, thanking myself for my willingness to engage in such a simple practice.

Honor Yourself Pic

There is such a clear difference between moving with integrity and moving with excessive attachment. Honour your integrity, fellow yogis and yogini.

May you move through the world in honour and integrity. May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you live with ease.

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12 thoughts on “Honor Thyself: A Two-Day Lesson in Yogic Integrity and Grace

  1. A good reminder! This is hard for me to put into practice especially with having a chronic condition. I often feel I have to prove something to myself about my abilities but as you put so well it just results in harm.

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    1. It’s so hard not to perform at your peak ability every single time, but there is definitely more wisdom and room for growth in safely playing the edge, not going beyond it! Thank you for stopping by 🙂

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  2. Wow….. another amazing post. Its easy for me to fall prey to “attacments”. I clearly can relate to you because when I was working out more intensely I was more focused and hence attached to the gym than what i was doing there. The need of being in that space was my ultimate goal. And if i missed a day because of bad weather, for instant, i would feel like it was the end of the world for me. Of course it is different now. I no longer go to the gym and I am not so attached to working out. I guess you have put my current state into the correct words. But you have also remimded me that I must not attache myself to my goal and push my body into something. I must gently take it there. Was is you who mentioned in your previous posts that let your body trust you and it will take you further?

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Alia! Yes, last post was all about letting your body be your guide when getting into asanas. This week felt like the other side of the coin, I had to learn that even in quick motions that get you out of asanas (like dropping down from a handstand) you need your body’s permission. My foot ended up hurting a lot and I got it checked out. My drop caused extensive soft tissue damage so I’m having to stay home and heal for a few days 😦 Just goes to show that I have to consciously recommit to my health and integrity every single day–no matter how many times I think I have learned the lesson.

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      1. I am so sorry to hear that and wish you a speady recovery. Thank you for sharing this experience and helping us learn from it as well. Now that you know and we have become aware, we should be more cautious abd gently with ourselves

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  3. Sara, thank you so much for this post! I’m new to yoga even though I’ve tried practicing years ago before having a baby. I was never able to commit to taking care of myself then so I always keep trying out different classes and studios without lasting for more than a month.

    Now, as a new mom, I realize that my family needs me more than ever. And they need me to be healthier, emotionally and physically. This is my new goal for practicing yoga.

    Thank you for reminding me with this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 So beautifully said! I’m so glad you found such a place of certainty and openness about what you want for yourself and your family ❤ I am incredibly touched by your message, thank you so much for reaching out 🙂 Best of luck on your beautiful journey and I hope to connect again soon!

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